11 June 2010
Having to replace a radiator is a hassle, but tolerable. Replacing a muffler or alternator is more costly and thus, more frustrating. But it's still bearable. Your car's engine, on the other hand, is among the few assemblies (your transmission is the other one) where a failure can empty your pocket book.
Your engine will not last forever, of course. Depending on how hard you drive it and the number of miles you put on it, you can expect it to last between 100,000 miles and twice that amount. If you keep your vehicle long enough, it will eventually develop major problems.
Below, we'll explore the decision to fix the assembly versus having it replaced. We'll explain why uncovering the root causes of a given problem is a critical piece to making this decision. Lastly, we'll describe the key differences between a brand new engine and a remanufactured unit.
Deciding Whether To Repair The Assembly
Suppose your vehicle is eight or nine years old and you've driven it extremely hard over those years. As a result, your engine has finally failed. The first question to ask is whether you should keep your car, or retire it and buy a new one. A lot depends on its age, value, and overall condition.
For example, if your car has a market value of $2,500, spending over $1,000 to have your engine repaired (or replaced) may make little sense. But if your vehicle has retained its value and other major components (e.g. transmission) remain in good shape, spending the money might be worthwhile.
Let's suppose you have decided to keep your car. Now, the question becomes whether you should have the failing engine repaired or replaced. Your decision will largely hinge on its condition and the number of miles on it.
For example, if the assembly has 130,000 miles, a history of valve or piston problems, and a chronic misfire, repairing it will be costly. The mechanic might need to perform extensive work on the cylinders. He may need to align the engine block and replace the valves.
Also, with an overhaul, the entire assembly must be dismantled. The individual pieces are disassembled, so the mechanic can check for blemishes, fissures, or other structural problems. The components that are in good condition are then cleaned. The ones that are in poor condition are replaced. Once the parts have either been cleaned or replaced, the assembly is put back together.
This is painstaking work. An engine overhaul requires an enormous amount of time and effort. This is the reason a lot of mechanics will strongly suggest having the engine replaced.
Differences Between New And Remanufactured Engines
You can buy a used assembly from a junkyard, but doing so may be dangerous. There's no way to be certain whether there are problems hidden from view, especially with engines that have a lot of miles. Even if you find a used assembly with low miles and a limited warranty, it will usually be a less-than-ideal option. The price will be consistent with a remanufactured unit, which will have been brought up to OEM standards. At that point, you're better off investing in the latter.
A new engine is exactly how it sounds. Every individual piece is new. The valves, pistons, engine block, connecting rods, and other parts have never been used.
A remanufactured unit is nearly as good (and far less expensive). Remans are used assemblies that have been dismantled, closely examined, and carefully cleaned. Most of the pieces that wear over time (e.g. timing belt, gaskets, etc.) are replaced. Then, the assembly is rebuilt and tested to ensure it meets OEM standards.
Which option is best? If your budget is limited, a remanufactured engine that has been brought up to OEM specifications is an ideal solution. It will get your car back on the road without the high cost associated with a new assembly.